SALT LAKE CITY — There was a sequence in the second half of BYU’s 74-59 win against Utah in the Beehive Classic that summed up Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s frustrations with the afternoon’s performance.
Jayce Johnson pulled down a rebound but BYU forward Zac Seljaas swatted the ball out of Johnson’s hands on the floor, the ball careened off of some legs, back to Seljaas and he flushed down a slam dunk.
It was the punishment for a general theme of Utah not securing rebounds, something Krystkowiak called a comedy of errors. But the 6-foot-7 junior forward from Bountiful High at the center of that play quietly had an impactful game for the Cougars.
A first glance will reveal that, yes, junior forward Yoeli Childs had a dominant 31-point, 11-rebound game with an Earth-shattering slam dunk over Both Gach and Novak Topalovic.
Seljaas had 14 points with six rebounds, five steals and three assists in 37 minutes. The Cougars were plus-23 with him on the floor.
Early in the second half, he blocked Parker Van Dyke at the rim, who was going for a reverse layup off a back-door cut.
“Zac played with a lot of heart,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said.
“Those three guys, TJ (Haws), Yoeli and Zac, they’ve grown up in this state with the rivalry with this game and I think I’m just happy for all three of them because they all played maybe as well as they’ve played all year.”
Seljaas got the ball after his block, went down the floor, passed it, got it back and nailed a 3-pointer.
Later, Seljaas swatted the ball out of Johnson’s hands after Johnson had come down with a rebound at the BYU basket. The dunk followed, giving BYU a 12-point lead at that time.
“I thought he came out really aggressive shooting the ball, getting to the basket, he did a little bit of everything. When he plays like that it definitely spaces out the floor a little bit for everyone else,” guard TJ Haws said.
Seljaas was a standout at Bountiful, a driving force of the teams that won three region titles and two state titles. In 2015, he was named the Standard-Examiner All-Area Boys Basketball Most Valuable Player for averaging 25.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
Seljaas has seen an expanded role this season for BYU. He’s started all 11 games this year after starting 11 of 35 last season and he’s averaging career bests in points (7.9), rebounds (3.4) and assists (1.8).
With 10:42 left in the first half, Nick Emery checked in. A little more than three years ago to the day, Emery, as many recall, sucker punched Utah’s Brandon Taylor when the Cougars played at Utah.
Krystkowiak then canceled the BYU-Utah yearly contest, offering to pay the $80,000 contractual buyout himself. That drew him the nickname Larry “80K.”
That was of course just the beginning of Emery’s whirlwind. Since then, he’s taken time off from the BYU basketball team, gone through a divorce and had to serve a suspension due to accepting improper benefits, which attracted the NCAA to impose byzantine penalties on the Cougars.
For all of that, his check-in was about as anonymous as one could have imagined.
It was during a media timeout and he still had his warmup jersey on. Nobody boo’d him at length until he was dribbling the ball for a few seconds near half court. Even then, the boos were hardly as ravenous as one might’ve expected.
It’s like the punch was ancient history.
He played 12 minutes, went 0 for 2 from the field with one steal and one rebound. His plus-minus was minus-18, a strange occurrence for a team that won by 15.
Also strange: Jahshire Hardnett was plus-25 for BYU despite scoring zero points with one assist.